MAXWELL — The conversation surrounding California’s water continues. The Sites Reservoir project northwest of Sacramento has a price tag of $4 billion and is funded by local, state and federal dollars.
The 1.5 million-acre project would divert water from the Sacramento River into a valley near Maxwell, California, and use it for storage. California water rights are a bit tricky – and strict – and that’s the phase the Sites Project Authority is in. They say things are ramping up, however.
A hearing officer has put forth a schedule for the hearings surrounding water rights to conclude by the end of this year and a decision could be made in early 2025.
“The project has been trying to get started for decades but now, we’re only a matter of maybe two years away right?” I asked Jerry Brown, executive director of the Sites Project Authority.
“Right. Yeah. It’s pretty amazing and I think it’s really more of a sign of the times that we have reached a point where we realize we need to act with urgency,” Brown responded.

While water has been plentiful the last two years, another drought could be just around the corner. The project would store water for the times we need it most. Located 10 miles west of Maxwell, California lies a valley, and that valley is where the Sites Project Authority hopes to store water that would ultimately supply cities and farmers across the state of California.
“Also, this reservoir will collect water during flood events, so it’s going to pull the excess which will also help with flood control in our Sacramento area,” said Amber McDowell, executive director of the Sacramento County Farm Bureau.
The bureau is in full support of the project. They view it as a way to supply water to other parts of the state while also alleviating some pressure from agricultural water use.
However, not everyone feels the same way. There’s been pushback from environmental groups.

“We’re skeptical as to its virtues and concerned about its environmental impacts,” said Ronald Stark, senior policy staff member for Friends of the River.
The environmental impact report was certified in November – something that took six years.
“Well, the authority is in control of its own EIR and can say what it wishes about the environmental impact report. Obviously, there is disagreement about those issues because there is a lawsuit,” Stark said.
“Whenever you’re doing anything of this nature, there’s going to be impacts and tradeoffs,” Brown said. “And while I appreciate the natural run of the river is important, I also believe we are able to safely and protectively divert some of that water.”
Brown said they’ll be using a lot of already existing infrastructure. In fact, there are 180 miles of conveyance associated with the project and only about 15 miles will be new. It’ll also create around 2,000 jobs for the area for construction and maintenance. If water rights and permitting go well, the project is set to begin construction in 2026 and end in 2032.

作者 xihuan